For more information on Sharon Hollingsworth and Brian Stevenson please see the sidebar for the About Your Humble Bloggers link.

NOTE: POSTS AT ELEVEN MILE CREEK ARE ARCHIVED MONTHLY. IF YOU ARRIVE HERE AND THE LANDSCAPE LOOKS BLEAK AND STARK GO TO THE BLOG ARCHIVES. THERE IS WHERE YOU WILL FIND THE VERDANCY.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

PhD Thesis on Ned Kelly and the Movies

Greg Young alerted me to this item.

There is a 288 page PhD thesis by Stephen Gaunson called Ned Kelly & the Movies 1906-2003: Representation, Social Banditry & History available online.
It is in PDF form (it took me almost an hour and a half to download it on dialup!). It was well worth it, though!
There are also quite a few interesting scene captures, photos and illustrations related to the Kelly saga included.

You can find it at:

http://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/eserv/rmit:4936/Gaunson.pdf
 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Book Alert: GLENROWAN by Ian W.Shaw

Michael Ball alerted me about a new book to be released on April 1, 2012 called "Glenrowan" by Ian W. Shaw.

He sent me this link http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Glenrowan-Ian-W-Shaw/9781742610986?cf=3  that had the following blurb about the book:

"It's the story of Ned Kelly - a man who made too many mistakes in too short a time. Joe Byrne who toasted the success of the gang one moment and bled to death on the hotel floor the next. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart who preferred to die rather than surrender. Sergeant Arthur Steele, who was twice warned by his own men that they would shoot him if he kept trying to kill unarmed people. Ann Jones the struggling owner of the hotel and the railway guard Jesse Dowsett who took on Ned Kelly in a face-to-face shootout. In 'Glenrowan' the real heroes - and the real villains - take centre stage, just as they did at Glenrowan in June 1880."



 Looking forward to hearing reviews of this book from others once it is published. If I could get my hands on one over here in the USA you can rest assured I would give it a thorough going over and would report in depth on it! I seriously doubt that there would be much of anything new to me in it as I have been intensely studying the Kelly Gang for nearly a decade (of course, some aspects of the saga, like the siege, hold more interest for me than others), but I would surely like to see how it is put together and presented. I wish the author a great deal of success with it!

At the publisher's website I found an image of the proposed cover:

http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/display_title.asp?ISBN=9781742610986&Author=Shaw,%20Ian%20W.


Thanks again to Michael who has helped this blog be first with lots of new info!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recent John Molony Lecture on Ned Kelly

Michael Ball alerted me to this interesting information.

On November 26, 2011 author John Molony gave a talk at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra as part of The Convicts to Colony Lecture Series. It was called "Ned Kelly: Our Heroic Outlaw" and was described on the National Gallery's website as being about "the tangled web of reality and legend that symbolises Ned Kelly's life."

There is video footage of it at
http://www.portrait.gov.au/site/recordings.php?vidID=115

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Was Ann Jones's Brother-In-Law at the Siege of Glenrowan? [Sharon Hollingsworth]

The National Library of Australia's "Trove" website is an aptly named one, as it is a treasure trove of information. Some of the information in those old newspapers makes you wonder how correct it is, though. For instance, there was the following blurb in the (Perth) Sunday Times on August 17, 1919:

"Four men at least in Perth are known to have seen and chatted with Ned Kelly, personally. Bohemian Actor Cole, Charlie Wilson (erst of the Sandringham and Great Western), Ex-Police Sergeant Devine, and Pa Jones of the Duke of York restaurant. -The latter's sister-in-law (Mrs. Jones) kept the hotel at Glenrowan, where Dan Kelly, Steve Hart, and Joe Byrne were shot and burned, the present landlord of the Duke being on a visit to his relatives in Glenrowan when the greatest bushranging battle in Australian history was fought."


Ok, that sounds quite intriguing! So, I did some further digging as to who "Pa Jones" was. "Pa" was the affectionate nickname given to James Alexander Jones who took over the running of Perth's The Duke of York Restaurant in 1899. The Duke of York Restaurant was also referred to as The Duke of York Hotel (as they offered rooms for rent in addition to serving meals) and even as The Duke of York Coffee Palace. The latter may have been because Mr. Jones had previously run a place in Perth called The Paris Coffee Palace (of course I am sure the Duke of York establishment also sold coffee in addition to meals and rooms.)

Is there a possibility that James Alexander Jones actually was at the siege? He died in May of 1925 at age 68, which would have made him around 23 years of age in 1880. Owen Jones (Ann Jones's husband) was 63 when he died in 1890, so he would have been 53 years old in 1880 (also note that Owen was not living at home in Glenrowan at the time due to work obligations). A thirty year age difference between brothers seems odd, unless his father remarried a younger woman later in life and started a new family as some do. Regardless, with that kind of age difference, the brothers would not have been raised together, so there would be a question as to how close they were. That is one thing that gives me pause, but anything is possible, I suppose. There is also the situation of at least three of Ann Jones's sons heading out to Western Australia for a new life in later years when they grew up. Did they go out there as they had a relative in the area they could turn to for assistance?

I guess we will never know for sure what the go was, and the newspapers in 1880 did not mention anything about James Alexander Jones being at the siege nor did Ann herself mention anything about a relative being in the Inn. Surely, if he was there he would have helped carry his fatally wounded nephew (Johnny Jones) first to the kitchen (instead, Ann and her daughter Jane did the carrying) and later out of the Inn (as Neil McHugh did), wouldn't he?

As a side note, of the other three men mentioned earlier as having known Ned Kelly, we know who Ex-Police Sgt. Devine was, but what of Bohemian Actor Cole and Charlie Wilson (erst of the Sandringham and Great Western)?

"Bohemian actor Cole" was American actor and entrepreneur Edward I. Cole (not to be confused with Edward M. Cole of Melbourne bookseller fame). Edward Irham Cole ran the Bohemian Dramatic Company and actually had produced a Kelly Gang play.

I have no further information of who Charlie Wilson was or in what capacity he knew Ned. By the way, the Sandringham and Great Western were hotels in Perth and not the name of a railroad company like I first thought!


I do wonder if all the men in Perth who knew Ned Kelly ever got together to talk about their experiences?

Going back to James Alexander Jones for a moment....from everything that I have read he was a kind, generous and helpful man.  An interesting report that bears bringing to light, comes from the (Perth) Sunday Times of May 25, 1925. It tells of a unique service that he provided at The Duke of York Restaurant:

"All who remember the old place will recall a large window abutting on the street in which were exhibited many hundreds of letters and newspapers, these having been sent to those who had either forgotten or wished to be forgotten by their friends or who had gone away in to the big spaces of the bush or had crossed the Great Divide. For years Pa Jones kept these letters in his window and now and then was rewarded by someone claiming one or two. Not until years had passed would he allow any to be opened and then only in the presence of reputable and responsible witnesses, and in many cases the letters were returned to their senders with an informative note attached."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Article Alert: Kelly Fest Needs a New Ned

from google alerts..

There is an interview over on the 3aw Radio website about how the search is on for someone to portray Ned Kelly in Beechworth.

It is called "Kelly Fest Needs a New Ned."

An excerpt:

"We need someone who likes to be the centre of attention.....You need to have a bushranger beard, you need to have a bit of an Irish accent and an understanding of the history."






For more:

http://www.3aw.com.au/blogs/breaking-news-blog/kelly-fest-needs-a-new-ned/20111215-1ovhf.html

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wild Wright - A Sheepman's View [Brian Stevenson]


Fate is often capricious, with just a little crinkle in the fabric of history necessary for things to turn out completely different.

Take, for example, the Kelly Gang, formed almost on impulse and forged in the blood of Stringybark Creek. The membership of Ned and Dan, of course, was a fait accompli, but how easy it would have been for another local lad to become part of that select company, had they been present on that fateful afternoon.

Tom Lloyd could so easily have been a member, and indeed, was not far away when the murders occurred. Perhaps the course of events would not have been that different had steady and reliable Tom been in the Gang. But when we think of who else could so easily have been a gang member with unimaginable consequences for the story - the terminally confused Aaron Sherritt, or the unpredictably volatile Isaiah 'Wild' Wright, for example.



Well, it did not happen, and we know that Isaiah Wright lived well into the twentieth century and only spent the last decade or so of his life out of trouble.



Recently, at the suggestion of my wonderful co-blogger Sharon (I never lose a chance to tell her how great she is) I looked at the memoirs of one Hugh Malcolm (Mat) Eastman, Memoirs of a Sheepman, that seems to have been privately published in Deniliquin, New South Wales in 1953. I happened to be at the State Library of New South Wales, which, I must say, had extremely helpful staff, something us librarians notice about each other when we are incognito in other libraries.



Eastman also left behind an unpublished manuscript, but the section dealing with Wild seems to be pretty much verbatim what was published later on in his printed book, so if you are at the SLNSW, don't worry about the manuscript for this. And you have to read it on microfilm - yuck. I can't say that he is great on the details either - there is a garbled account of the incident at Jerilderie where Steve Hart abstracted the watch of the worthy Reverend John B Gribble and Ned made him give it back. The Eastman account has the watch taken from someone called Robert Gardiner, 'a jovial Scotsman with a store in Jerilderie' by Dan Kelly. Not sure if there was anyone called Robert Gardiner at Jerilderie, but of such is the stuff of legend made.



Eastman met Wild Wright in 1891 during one of the shearing strikes. He found himself in charge of the shed at Hartwood with one hundred thousand sheep to shear and only ten men to do the work. Eastman managed to hire a few additional hands, and one day 'a tall well-set up horseman on a fine type of horse' arrived. Eastman thought that he was either a policeman in civilian clothes or an Australian Workers' Union organiser. But the new arrival asked 'Any chance of a pen, boss?' meaning that he wanted a job.



Eastman, still cautious, said that he might have a pen or two of sheep left to shear (he actually had 24.) There then ensued a curious dialogue in what passed for a job interview:




'Shearing anywhere this year?'




'Shure, I never shore a sheep last year.'




'Where were you shearing last year? You say you are a shearer.'




'Shure, I never shore a sheep last year.'




'What have you been doing in your spare time?'




'I've been doing a lot of jail, I'm just after doing seven years for stealing a horse along with Jim Kelly.' Wild now provided some helpful advice. 'If you are ever short of a horse, shake it on your own, don't go with another man or you are sure to be lagged.'



'What is your name anyhow?'



'You know my name right enough.'



'No, you are a stranger to me.'



'Well, I'm not woild at art, but they call me Woild Wright.'




'The devil you are. I wish I'd known that before giving you the pen.'



'Ah sure, you will not find me woild at arl.'



Wild was hired, and according to Eastman, was 'one of the best blade men' he had ever seen. But he was still capable of 'woild' exploits.


During a meal break, Wild caught his horse, vaulted on to its back without the saddle or bridle and sent it full gallop to the dining room. When he got to the doorway, he vaulted over the horse's head and landed on his feet inside the dining room 'giving a yell audible at the sheepyards.' Wild then strolled casually to his seat at the dining table.


When signing for his pay, his boss remarked on his given name. 'Isaiah. Well, Wright, your mother gave you a good kick off in selecting a name for you.'


Wild's reply was sad. 'The divil a bit of good it's been to me anyhow.'


On the weekends, Wild lived up to his nickname. Whenever he returned from the pub on Sunday evenings, 'he had his mates scared stiff as he raved.'


Eventually Wild and Eastman came to the parting of the ways. 'Never mind', this difficult character in the Kelly drama replied: 'I will go to Conargo [a small town in the Riverina district of New South Wales] and any of the shearers pulling in after the cut out, I'll rob of their cheques.' Apparently he was as good as his word, and helped the 'robbed' liquidate their cheques, presumably with liquid refreshments!


Wild Wright's death was not documented by any government official, but from the work of Deborah Bird Rose and others, it seems likely that he died while working on a station in the Northern Territory in 1911. Eastman tells a different tale: 'Years afterwards, in the back country, a derelict, all broken up, he was buried by the police on the roadside where he fell - the end of a queer misfit.'

Friday, December 2, 2011

ALERT: The Francis Hare Papers at the University of Melbourne are now available online!

Both Brian and I have waited for this day for a very long time! The Francis Hare papers at the University of Melbourne are now available to read online! (Remember, you heard it here first!)

First we just had the new find of a letter that Superintendent Francis Hare wrote regarding the siege, then, while searching for more info on that I stumbled over where the University had  finally added in those long-awaited transcriptions.

I am finding what Capt. Standish wrote to Hare to be quite gossipy and of great interest!

I can't do a direct link as the pdf would not open for me (your mileage may vary, though.) How to find it is to go to google and type in

"Municipal Office Maryborough" "Francis Hare Papers"

That should take you to only one entry if you properly used the quotation marks...if you can click on it and have it open, there you are..if it does not open, do as I did and click on "quick view" and it will load as a google document.

Article Alert: Family Album Reveals Kelly Letter

from google alerts..

There is a new article entitled "Family Album Reveals Kelly Letter"  in which it tells about a long lost letter written by Superintendent Francis Hare regarding Ned Kelly, the Kelly Gang, and the siege of Glenrowan.

The article begins with:



An undiscovered letter about the Kelly Gang's Glenrowan siege has been found in an Adelaide family album.
The 1880 letter is expected to reap the rewards of a resurgence in interest in Ned Kelly this year, and fetch between $10,000 and $20,000 at auction next Sunday.
Adelaide rare books dealer Michael Treloar was assessing Merilyn Pedrick's family's autograph collections when he discovered the letter.
"I saw the letterhead and I knew of Rupertswood, Sunbury, because my wife is from near there," Mr Treloar said.
"That caught my attention but it was only after I read the second page of the letter that I realised its significance. It hasn't seen the light of day since 1880 until I discovered it two months ago. It had always been in the album."
Back in 1880, three weeks after the Glenrowan shootout, Superintendent Francis Augustus Hare, below, who was a key player in the siege, wrote the letter to Mrs Smith, the great-grandmother of its present owner.....


to read more:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/family-album-reveals-kelly-letter/story-e6frea83-1226212675262

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Montfort and Montiford: A Confusion of Names [Sharon Hollingsworth]

I wonder if anyone else is as confused as I am when it comes to the players in the Kelly saga by the names of Montfort and Montiford? It should be simple enough to differentiate between the two as one was in the force for 50 years and was a police Inspector at the time of the Kelly outbreak. Back in 1870 he had been in on the capture of Harry Power along with Hare and Nicolson. While he was not directly in the hunt for the Kellys, he was in charge of the Russell Street Barracks for a while and was on the scene and in charge when Ned Kelly was taken off the train in Melbourne after leaving Benalla just after the siege. He later was assigned Sadleir's position in the NE of Victoria. In that capacity he was along the day that the Royal Commissioners visited the Kelly homestead. All except Montfort (who was on horseback) rode in wagons causing Mrs. Kelly to quip: "I didn't know who you all could be; I thought it was a circus parade."

The other person in question was a mounted constable based in Wangaratta who arrived at the siege with Sgt. Steele's contingent and who received part of the reward money. In Constable Dwyer's piece for Life magazine in 1910 that Brian Stevenson had previously blogged about, Dwyer related that:

Ned walked a couple of hundred yards away from the hotel, and lay down under a large fallen log. Just then Mounted-Constables Montiford, Cawsey, Moore, and Dixon, of the Wangaratta contingent, were walking up to the back of the hotel from the railway line. Ned's armour, which he had on, rattled, which caused the police to stand, Moore asking, 'What noise was that?' 'Oh, it must be the noise of the horse's hobbles,' Montiford replied.
"Ned Kelly, in relating this incident to Superintendent Sadleir and myself, as he lay on the couch in Mr. Stanistreet's office, afterwards laughed, saying that he could have pinched Montiford's leg at the time.


Montiford was also the constable that told Maggie Skillion, upon her arrival on horseback at the siege, to "go back....you cannot come in here."



I guess that it was when people heard the two names pronounced that is when the confusion set in. For example, in the Royal Commission's Minutes of Evidence in 1881, W.B. Montfort gave evidence. He was also referred to by other witnesses. In some of those instances his name was given as Montfort. In several other instances his name was given as Montford, including in the list of witnesses!





Things got really interesting when Constable John Montiford was referred to by witnesses. His name was given correctly in a few places but his name was given as Montford in a few other places and then given as Montfort more than half a dozen times! There was no confusing who they were talking about when they gave the name as Montfort, as it was clearly talking about the constable at Glenrowan and his actions. Inspector W.B. Montfort was not at the siege at all, so it wasn't him. When the names are given of constables later in the Royal Commission, Constable Montiford's name is given correctly there, along with his number (2697).



Then there was the confusion of names in other sources. Kenneally has Inspector Montfort listed and then later in the text has it as Mountford and Ian Jones has Constable Mountiford instead of Constable Montiford.

But if you really want confusion, in Corfield's Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia he states that John Montiford's family added O'Brien to the the family name in the 1890s, making him John Montiford-O'Brien!

If anyone was researching these men, they would do well to make sure which one did what and when before using the information!

And don't get me started on how Charles Hope Nicolson's last name is often misspelled Nicholson. Odd how Dr. John Nicholson's name is never given as Nicolson, though! And not forgetting how Sadleir is often misspelled Sadlier, and the Old Melbourne Gaol is often given online as the Old Melbourne Goal! Trust me, gaol is never an outlaw's goal!!!! One good thing about the internet is if one makes a spelling (or fact) booboo it can be easily fixed...try that with a printed book! Moral of the story: choose your editor wisely! I remember getting started out with reading Australian websites and being struck by their use of s instead of z in words like realize. They have rubbed off on me and now I use the bits like neighbour and colour instead of neighbor and color when writing for the blog, but when I do things in the real world I have to remember to revert back to the American usage!  Ok, mini-rant over, I will take off my "spelling police" hat now!

Oh, yeah, before I close, there is an oddly interesting aside regarding Inspector Montfort that I came across in an 1889 paper:

 "It is represented that in 1883, Inspector Montfort, with the approval of the higher authorities in the force, refused to sanction the marriage of certain constables in the North-eastern district for no other reason than that "too many" were applying for permission to marry."


Then just after seeing that I saw in the Royal Commission (from 1881) where he said that:

3321. What difference is made between the single and the married men in appointments?—I never knew any difference. If a man is thought suitable he is sent to a certain place; of course at some stations it would be necessary to station a married man; in some stations the man’s wife cooks for the station. In some there are quarters only for married men.
3322. Would that do in the North-Eastern district?—I have a great dislike to married men myself, but my opinion is not shared by every officer in the force.



Tragically, on a personal note, Montfort's first wife died at age 29 in 1882 during childbirth. The child died 3 days later. He remarried within a couple of years and started a new family. I do wonder why did he not wish for other men to take wives?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Article Alert: Two New Ned Kelly Articles: One Pro/One Con

from google alerts..

The Weekly Times has an opinion piece from Christopher Bantick called "Why We Need Ned Kelly" in which he shreds Ned like he has done so many times before in the past.
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/11/23/410211_opinion-news.html

Then in the Border Mail we have an article called "Ned Kelly was Not a Murderer" in which a lawyer defends Ned and says if he would have had a competent lawyer he might have gotten off on a self-defense charge.
http://www.bordermail.com.au/news/local/news/general/feature-ned-kelly-was-not-a-murderer/2366916.aspx

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ned Kelly Related Material at the University of Melbourne's Digital Repository [Sharon Hollingsworth]

During a recent google search I stumbled over a great resource for Ned Kelly related material. The University of Melbourne has a Digital Repository where you can find great stuff related to the Royal Commission on the Police Force of Victoria. I found the "Minutes of Evidence Taken Before Royal Commission on the Police Force of Victoria" (what we affectionately call "The RC") there. I have a hard copy so I did not try to download all 720 pages of it...mainly because I am on dial up and it guesstimated that it would take "1 day, 13 hours" to do so!!!  Even with the Public Records Office of Victoria archives I usually have to go to the library to get large files to load. If one has broadband and can load the RC from the Digital Repository it would be a good thing as it is a digital copy and not one typed in by someone that may contain errors (either accidental or intentional!).

However, other files there are not so large. I found the First and Second Progress Report of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Circumstances of the Kelly Outbreak. (The Second Progress Report is also reprinted in the book "Ned Kelly After A Century of Acrimony.")

Also there was the report called "Police Commission - Charges Against Members of the Police Force" that also included the "Additional Return."

There were others including an Ad Interim Report on the Kelly Outbreak, a General Report on the Police Department and a Special Report on the Detective Branch.

Also the Kelly Reward Board
Report is there.

If you have a copy of What They Said About Ned! by Brian McDonald you can read entries (located under "Kelly, Edward") of what each of these reports entails. Brian McDonald's website is www.australianhistorypromotions.com if you would like to order it or other books he reprints.

Originals of many of the smaller reports (some 4 pages and some maybe 20 some pages) have been on ebay in the past and have sold for hundreds of dollars. I prefer to read them for free....hats off to the University of Melbourne's Digital Repository for making it possible for those of us who are short on coin but long on curiosity to be able to do so!

To find all this go to:
http://dtl.unimelb.edu.au

Then use these two search terms:

Kelly Reward Board


Victoria Royal Commission on the Police Force of Victoria

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Article Alert: Kelly Plot Thickens

From google alerts..

The Weekly Times Now has an article entitled "Kelly Plot Thickens" in which Greta Cemetery Trust Secretary Christine Magee said the following:


"...While their exact location remains hidden from the public, Christine admitted it took "three people and a lot of measuring" to pin-point the Kelly graves.
"There are 3000 plots down there and there's just short of 700 burials and (the Kellys) are not the only ones that aren't marked," she said...."


"...Christine admitted security, and the memory of others buried at Greta, were issues to be discussed. "The trouble is, if you've got a marker, especially with the Kellys, people will try to souvenir things like that. Even bolting it down probably wouldn't be enough to stop it.
"I don't think (Ned's grave) will ever be marked. There may be a plaque or something down near the gates, but that's up to the family."


To read in full:
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2011/11/16/407671_national-news.html

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bill Frost - Ellen Kelly's Forgotten Lover [Brian Stevenson]

 Despite her reputation as the 'notorious' Mrs Kelly, and despite the scrutiny applied to the documented actions of just about all members of her family over the last 130 years plus, Ned Kelly's mother Ellen had only three lovers whose names are known to history.

Everyone interested in the Kelly story has heard of John 'Red' Kelly, father of Ned, who once said of his ex-convict and hard-drinking dad 'a finer man never drew breath.' Most know of George King, the transplanted Californian who became Ned's stepfather and probably helped his stepson with the finer points of organised stock theft. But Bill Frost, an English stockrider whose association with Ellen Kelly occurred between that of her two husbands is pretty much forgotten.

According to his entry in Justin Corfield's Ned  Kelly  Encyclopedia William Frost was born in Suffolk in 1833 and probably arrived in Melbourne in 1857. He worked on a property near Greta owned by Hector Simson of Laceby. In June 1869 he had an affair with Ellen Kelly. When she became pregnant, Frost promised to marry her. However, when in March 1870 their baby daughter, Ellen, was born, Frost broke his promise. Ellen had to take him to court to compel him to support the child, and the story was reported in the Benalla Ensign and Farmer's and Squatter's journal for 21 October 1871.

The court heard that Frost was a constant weekend visitor at Eleven Mile Creek, generally going there on Saturday and leaving on Sunday night or Monday morning, and staying overnight in Ellen's room. Ellen testified to this effect, and remembered Frost sleeping with her on or about 25 June 1869 - a female child, also called Ellen, was born on 25 March 1870. According to Ellen, Frost had promised to provide for the child, and had bought little Ellen several presents, including a suit of clothes. Frost had never denied that the child was his, but when he made plans to marry another woman, the support had dried up. Ellen's solicitor had written to him and Frost had visited the Eleven Mile and told Ellen he would give her five or ten pounds and his horse to settle the matter. But Ellen, unsurprisingly, was not satisfied.

A couple of other men named William Gray and Jack Daniels (!) were boarding on and off at the Eleven Mile at the time, but Ellen denied intimacy with either of them. Her son-in-law, often referred to as William Skillion, but referred to here as William Skilling backed her up. Annie Gunn, Ellen's married daughter, stated that Frost was intimate with her mother and that he had admitted the paternity of little Ellen on several occasions. Moreover, Frost had given her a pound to buy clothes for the child. Annie Murdoch, a neighbour of Ellen Kelly, testified that she cooked a meal for Frost one evening and saw him go into Ellen's room for the night. Finally, a witness named Hanna Malyon swore that she had remonstrated with Frost over the matter: 'Why don't you pay Mrs Kelly; you know you are the father of the child!' Frost replied: 'I know that, but I won't pay her anything, but I do not deny the child and will not deny it in court.'

The Police Magistrate, Mr Butler heard the evidence and made his decision. As the Ensign expressed it: 'The Bench remarked that it men would be so foolish as to do such things they must expect a penalty for their actions.' For once, the law came down on the side of the Kelly family. On 17 October 1871, Frost was ordered to pay five shillings a week for two years for the support of little Ellen.

Sad to relate, Frost was not out of pocket for too long. In January 1872, little Ellen died. She was buried on 30 January and, presumably, Frost was off the hook for payments.

It would appear that the Kelly family was fond of the name Ellen. As well as little Ellen, who died at less than two years old, Ellen Kelly had another daughter called Ellen by George King, Ned's official stepfather. This Ellen lived a long life and died in 1963. Annie Gunn, the eldest Kelly girl, had a little girl, also named Ellen, by her husband Alex Gunn. The baby, born in 1871, lived only a few months. Newly married Maggie Skilling (or Skillion) had a baby that she named Ellen, also. This Ellen drowned herself as a young woman in 1897 after an argument over money with her defacto stepfather - none other than Tom Lloyd - possibly influencing Kate Kelly's possible suicide in the lagoon at Forbes, New South Wales the next year. All of which means that Ellen Kelly named two of her daughters after herself, and had two granddaughters named after her!

As for William Frost, by the time he was being taken court for maintenance, he was already married to another woman, Bridget Cotter. They married in June 1871, but nothing is known about the first ten years or so of their married life, during which, of course, Frost's defacto stepson Ned grew to manhood and became a legend even before being claimed by the gallows. Frost was presumably very aware of Ned's exploits, but there is no record of what he thought of them, or if he felt a twinge when Ellen was sentenced to three years gaol in 1878 in the wake of the Fitzpatrick affray, or when two of her sons died highly publicised deaths in 1880.

Bridget left Frost in April 1882 and went to Melbourne but in October he travelled to the city and brought her back. After she returned, the two of them got on better, and, in Bridget's words, 'he did not ill-treat me in any way.' But it seems that Bill Frost still had issues, and on 13 November they came to a head.

Bill woke up at 4 when he heard his dogs barking and grumpily went back to bed. Bridget arose about 4.30 and went to boil water for his tea. Before the water had time to boil, Frost (obviously a sensitive Victorian age guy) called out to her angrily 'Bring me that tea.' Peculiarly, in Bridget's words, she 'made tea and toast, and beat an egg up in the tea and gave it to him.' (This may have been a misprint in the newspaper.) She put it on a box near him and said to him 'Take that and you'll be able to get up.' Bill answered 'I'm not going to get up - I'm going to die.' Bridget said nothing and went out and had some tea - hopefully without an egg in it.

Bill then called out to her 'Send for your brother, for you'll want him, as you'll have more trouble on your mind than you are aware of.' Bridget retorted that she would have to make some arrangement before she sent for her brother, because he had a good job with good wages. She went on with her domestic chores, and was skimming milk when Bill 'called out in an angry tone for me to come.'

When she came into the room, Bill produced an uncorked bottle and told her to look at it. She took the bottle and put on her glasses and read the label: strychnine. 'You wicked man!' said Bridget. 'Are you going to poison yourself?'

Bill said: 'Look at that cup.'  Bridget looked and saw that the cup in which she had brought the tea was empty. She thought Frost was trying to frighten her, but still said 'I must send for the doctor.' She called a young lad called John Reisenauer, who was in their employ, and told him to catch a horse and go for the doctor. Frost called out to John: 'You can't catch any horse and I don't want the doctor.' Bridget went on with her housework, but John told her to come to Frost quickly. Frost was in pain and struggling and she said: 'Can I do anything for you?' Frost answered: 'It's no good now: I must die.' By 6.55 am William Frost, Ellen Kelly's forgotten lover was dead.

A full account of the inquest was published in the North Eastern Ensign (Benalla) the next day, 14 November 1882. Dr Nicholson, presumably the same individual who treated Ned Kelly after he was captured at Glenrowan (and, in an action presumably not in accordance with medical ethics, souvenired the famous green silk sash) testified that Bill's body was well nourished, had sound organs and showed no trace of disease. But to the doctor's mind the evidence was enough to show that Bill Frost had died from strychnine poisoning. The jury, no doubt mindful of the low regard that suicide was held in those days, probably alleviated Bridget's feelings a little by ruling that Bill had been of unsound mind at the time.

A little over two years before, Ned Kelly had said that he feared death as little as to drink a cup of tea. Ironically, one of the fringe players in the Kelly saga would demonstrate this in a way that could not have been more literal. 

Bridget Frost died in 1884.



[A Reminder: Though it says "posted by Sharon Hollingsworth" this blog was written by Brian Stevenson, I uploaded it for him as he was having technical difficulties doing so.]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Fierce Campaign of Calumny [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Today it is November 10, 2011 here in the USA but it is already November 11 in Australia. So I figured I would put up my little Ned Kelly commemoration day bit now instead of waiting for tomorrow.

It has been an exciting week here in the Kelly world with the news of Ned's newly identified remains being returned to his family for proper burial. That surely is generating tons of press. Most of the articles are just variations on the same theme, so I don't give every link that comes out, but all of those articles are easily findable on the net. (Also note due to copyright concerns I try not to cut and paste full stories.) What else is easily findable is a lot of dissention, distortions, misrepresentations and misconceptions about Ned Kelly in these articles or in the feedback/comments for them. Heck, it's not like we already didn't have enough dissention and misconception going on in general amongst those who actually like Ned to start with!

It is amazing to think on the fact that one hundred and thirty one years on from the day of Ned's execution that he is still generating news, causing debates, aggravating policemen and tugging at our heartstrings. His remains may soon be placed in consecrated ground but his spirit will never be contained in that good earth!

As so aptly put decades ago by Max Brown in the foreward to "Australian Son":

"...Strange that four such young men, born of the soil, educated by few books, but by the deeds of men and the signs of the earth, should live so briefly and be remembered so long in spite of the fiercest campaign of calumny the young colony had witnessed. People are not remembered for nothing; and Kelly, nearly seventy years dead, his own defence till now denied a hearing, will not lie down..."


Despite once being called "the smartest woman I have ever met" by someone in the Kelly world, even I had to look up what "calumny" meant.

Here is the definition:

Calumny

1.The making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone's reputation; slander.
2. A false and slanderous statement.

Yes, Max, it seems that a fierce campaign of calumny against Ned continues even now!

As far as events to commemorate the day, I read where there was to be a viewing of the Ned's Head documentary followed by a panel discussion at the State Library of Victoria but that was cancelled supposedly due to copyright concerns. Then the Old Melbourne Gaol commemoration dinner that was scheduled for the 10th was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. The poor sales were supposedly due to a very high ticket cost. It is almost like you would have to emulate the Kelly Gang and rob a bank to get into the gaol!!!! 

Actually, we don't need one certain spot (whether it is the gaol, a graveyard or a clearing in a forest) where we can go and commemorate Ned Kelly. We also don't need a certain day like June 28 or November 11 ("The Kelly High Holy Days"). We can keep Ned and his cause in our thoughts every day no matter how near or far we are to the North East of Victoria. We can only hope that a hundred and thirty one years from now (and beyond) others will continue to do the same.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Event Alert: Ned Dinner at OMG has been called off

The Ned Kelly commemorative dinner that was scheduled at the Old Melbourne Gaol for Nov 10, 2011 has been cancelled according to their website.


http://www.oldmelbournegaol.com.au/the_gaol_s_history/ned_kelly

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[Part Two] Ann Jones: New Beginnings and Same Old Endings [Sharon Hollingsworth]

At the end of part one of Ann Jones: New Beginnings and Same Old Endings found at http://elevenmilecreek.blogspot.com/2011/10/part-one-ann-jones-new-beginnings-and.html I had this bit:

But let's rewind back to 1901, Ann had lost her (second) husband of nearly a decade (actually she had lost 2 husbands in a dozen years), but she still had her wine shop to tide her over financially until the probate of the will and then the UK legal wrangling was done. In November of 1901 she transferred her Colonial Wine License to Mrs. W.H. (Sarah) Hill. Mrs. Hill rented the wine shop from Mrs. Jones and tragedy struck for Ann yet again in just a few months. History seemed to be repeating itself.


That tragedy was yet another fire at Ann's place in Glenrowan.
.........................................
From the Argus of  Saturday Jan.  18, 1902:

DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT

GLENROWAN
, Friday.

A fire broke out early this morning in a wine-shop (the site of the Kelly's fight), at present occupied by Mrs. W. H. Hill. So rapidly did the flames spread that a piano and a few small articles of furniture only were saved, Mrs. Hill's youngest daughter and a lodger (Mr. Loslar) having a very narrow escape. The alarm brought all the residents of Glenrowan to the scene, and at one time it appeared that the adjoining residence of Mr. W. J. Curry, contractor, owned by Miss J.Twamley, would be saved, but a fresh wind suddenly set in from the north-west, and it was soon seen that nothing could save it and the residence owned and occupied by Mr. A. M'Evoy, retired railway employee. Mrs. Hill will be a serious loser by the fire, as nearly the whole of her furniture was destroyed, and none was insured. The buildings were insured for £250 in the Commercial Union Company......
 



NE Ensign Friday, Jan. 24, 1902 had the following bits:

GREAT FIRE AT GLENROWAN. SEVERAL PLACES CONSUMED. A most disastrous fire occurred at Glenrowan about 1 a.m. on Friday last, whereby the " Cafe Royal," the property of Mrs Smith, was destroyed. After closing the house for the night, Mrs Hill, who recently became licensee of the premises, was aroused by her daughter, ill in bed at the time, who gave the alarm of "fire!" It was then realised that a bedroom was alight and in a few minutes afterwards the entire place was in flames...... In a little over an hour, the four houses were levelled to the ground, and what was a neat row of well built buildings, now only remains a heap of blackened ruins.



FURTHER PARTICULARS.

Our correspondent at Glenrowan sends us the following additional particulars: The licensee (Mrs W. H. Hill) was about to retire to rest and was aroused by her daughter's cries that smoke was coming into her room. Two or three young men who were on the point of leaving for their homes did all they could to arrest the flames, but their efforts were futile, and the buildings, containing 12 rooms, were soon reduced to cinders. Mrs. Hill lost nearly all her furniture; but managed to save a new piano. She also had the misfortune to lose 10 pounds in notes and some silver.....A police investigation has been made into the origin of the fire, but no other conclusion was arrived at than that it resulted from a pure accident. Mrs Hill has obtained a permit to conduct her business on premises at the rear of the building destroyed, pending the erection of a new edifice.


.......................................

Ann and Henry in front of the second inn that burned down in 1902. From Cookson's The Kelly Gang From Within.

This is a photo of the third inn that was built sometime after the burning of the second one. From Cookson.
..........................................................
 On January 31, 1902 someone wrote a letter to the editor of the North Eastern Ensign appealing for help for Mrs. Smith:

"To the editor, sir, I desire to make an appeal to the public through your paper for Mrs. A. Smith, whose premises were burnt recently, everything being totally destroyed. There was an insurance on the property, but there was a mortgage also. Mrs. Smith has no means left her sole income being the rent of the property consumed. She has been struggling for the last 20 years - ever since her house - on the same site, was burnt during the taking of the Kellys. I shall therefore be pleased if you will publish this and accept contributions. Yours, etc. W. Acock"
............................

Remember that Ann had not yet received any funds from her late husband's estate at this time.

The inn was rebuilt yet again, this time in brick.

Mrs. Jones ended up her days in a three room cottage attended to by a housekeeper.

 B.W. Cookson interviewed Ann Jones in 1910 (but it was not published until the following year) and noted that the cottage was "scarcely a stone's throw away was the site of the old inn where the unfortunate woman had seen her boy slain, and where her own life had been wrecked."  It is a hard interview to read, as Ann was often bitter, tearful and raging about what happened when the visit from the Kellys in 1880 changed her life forever. 
Ann died on October 7, 1910 (aged between 77 and 80, depending on what is her correct year of birth) and was buried in the Wangaratta Cemetery.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

James Dwyer: A Little Known First Hand Account of the Capture of Ned Kelly [Brian Stevenson]

James Dwyer, then a constable but later a sergeant in the Victorian police has a few claims to fame besides his mere presence at Glenrowan. It was he who aimed a kick at the prostrate Ned Kelly only to clownishly recoil from the armour, which, whatever its flaws, was still stronger than flesh. It was also he who saw enough of the corpses of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly in the Glenrowan Inn to give the 1881 Royal Commission convincing testimony, including a vivid description of Dan Kelly, that the young outlaw pair were indeed dead.

What I did not know was that Dwyer had also given an account, thirty years later, of the events of 1880 that he was associated with. His account was published in a magazine called Life (in production long before, and not to be confused with the celebrated American pictorial magazine) and reprinted in the Euroa Advertiser of 11 March 1910. The newspaper called him O’Dwyer for some reason. Dwyer raised quite a few points of interest in his take on the exciting events of three decades before.

Dwyer believed that the capture and destruction of the Kelly Gang arose directly from a remark made by Aaron Sherritt between 8 and 9 pm on Thursday 24 June 1880 to a mounted constable. While entering the bar of ‘a certain hotel on the Chiltern road, in the suburbs of Beechworth’, Sherritt noticed the barmaid talking to a miner, and, ‘stung by jealousy’, remarked to the constable that the girl met Joe Byrne every Saturday night. After Sherritt and the constable left, the constable went back again and questioned the girl, apparently named Maggie, about seeing Byrne. Maggie took about five seconds to figure it out. ‘The devil a man could have told you that but Sherritt.’ The constable denied it, but it was too late, and Maggie said that soon Joe Byrne would know it too.

[This is along the lines of what was portrayed in the Ian Jones TV miniseries 'The Last Outlaw', although it seems unlikely that there were only two days between the date that Dwyer gives and the actual death of Sherritt on 26 June. If this incident precipitating the slaying of Sherritt actually occurred, the time lag was almost certainly greater.]

Dwyer then diverts from his narrative a little by claiming that the hiding place of the Gang during their bushranging career was an old mining shaft, twenty-five feet deep, and about one hundred yards from the junction of three roads, to Chiltern, Yackandandah and Kiewa, about eleven miles from Beechworth. The location is pretty specific – perhaps someone with more knowledge of the area could check it out sometime and comment. Dwyer claimed that Ned told him of the subterranean hideout while he was on a seat beside the dock in the Supreme Court, while waiting for Redmond Barry to get back from his lunch. Dwyer asked Ned why he hadn’t told him of the existence of the shaft at Glenrowan. Ned’s answer was simple: ‘Because there was as much provision there as would do ten men, and I did not want you to have it.’

As was the case with Mrs Devine, wife of the policeman at Jerilderie, Dwyer dreamed of the Kelly Gang a couple of nights before the Glenrowan siege, even down to the detail of the armour Ned wore. He travelled from Wangaratta to Glenrowan on the pilot engine brought down from Beechworth, a distance of eleven miles that took 35 minutes. Jesse Dowsett, the heroic railwayman soon to earn himself a footnote in Australian history, was also aboard the train. Like the train famously stopped by schoolteacher Thomas Curnow, this train was also halted by a red light, this time held by the Benalla auctioneer Rawlings who would make himself very useful on that day.

At one stage, Superintendent Sadleir asked Dwyer to take a message to the station and wire to Benalla for more ammunition and refreshments for the men. As Dwyer rose to start his mission, ‘the whizz of a bullet knocked my hat off.’ Later, Reynolds, the Glenrowan postmaster, said that Joe Byrne had seen Dwyer leave the trench and fired at him from the window. It was Joe Byrne’s last shot – a stray police bullet killed him minutes later.

Dwyer got the message sent and returned in time to see Ned Kelly firing at the constables around him. ‘As I ran towards Ned, who was about sixty yards in front of me, I heard someone say, “Boys, let us rush him.” Someone behind me cried “Look out, Dwyer, he has you cornered” and, looking, I saw Ned Kelly with revolver pointed straight at my face. I turned my head to the left shoulder as the bullet whizzed past my right ear.’

Just then, Steele shot Ned in the thigh with ‘a charge of small swan-shot’ and Kelly fell to the ground as Steele, Senior Constable Kelly, Constable Mountiford, Dwyer and Dowsett were on him. As Ned struggled, Dwyer took the helmet from his head. Dwyer’s account of the conversation Ned now had with Steele is different to other accounts. Steele said: ‘Well, Kelly, I have got you at last.’ Ned replied: ‘Yes, Steele. Don’t let them kill me. I never shot or injured one of you.’ Dwyer chipped in ‘You tried hard to do so, just now: your last shot whizzed by my ear.’

Dwyer helped undo the leather straps holding Ned’s armour in place, and offered his captured enemy a nip of brandy. “Will you have a nip of brandy, Ned?”

“Yes, please, if you’ll give it to me.”

“Certainly, why shouldn’t I?” I answered.

“Put it to my lips, I cannot take it in my hand.”
 
As Dwyer took the glass from Kelly’s lips, some of the brandy fell on his beard.

And it was here that Dwyer’s account ended. It is interesting that he said nothing about helping to retrieve Joe Byrne’s body from the burning hotel, getting a good enough look at Dan and Steve to identify them after their deaths, or relieving his undoubted hatred of Ned Kelly by kicking the fallen outlaw chieftain. But few others were as close to the action on that terrible day as James Dwyer, and for this alone his first hand account must be, at the very least, very seriously taken into consideration. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Article Alert: On the Trail of Ned Kelly's Father, John 'Red' Kelly

From google alerts..

The Sydney Morning Herald of October 15, 2011had an article called "Kicking Over the Traces" in which writer Tim Richards follows the trail of John Kelly, petty thief and father of Ned.

The article begins with:


'He was like all troublemakers - they were disenfranchised, angry young men with no jobs, no future at all, with no stake in society, they were the bottom of the pile," says Terry Cunningham, as we chat in McCarthy's Hotel, an atmospheric old pub in Fethard, deep in Ireland's County Tipperary. The particular angry young man we have in mind is John "Red" Kelly, a poor local tenant who stole two pigs in 1840 and was sentenced to transportation to Australia....

To read more:

http://www.smh.com.au/travel/kicking-over-the-traces-20111012-1lkhm.html

Thursday, October 13, 2011

[Part One] Ann Jones: New Beginnings and Same Old Endings [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Have you ever wondered what happened to Mrs. Ann Jones in the years after the siege and after her fight for compensation for both the burning of the Glenrowan Inn and the death of two of her children?  Many know that she rebuilt the Inn in 1882 with the meager proceeds from the compensation for the Glenrowan Inn and she rented out those premises to the police for a barracks for a few years. During that time, she had built a small cottage next to the barracks so she could take in boarders to have some income. After the police took other quarters she opened up the larger premises as a wine shop. There are those researchers and writers who say that Ann Jones did not get a Colonial Wine License until 1895 but I have found that to be untrue. The earliest record I have found is that she had one at least by 1888!!! She surely must have had one earlier as she opened the wine business before then, right? I found the information in a couple of newspapers from 1888 in which Ann Jones was charged with selling whiskey without a license (sly grog selling). In it was the statement that "she is a holder of a Colonial Wine License." She was fined 25 pounds and court costs. Also charged in the case, but the charges were withdrawn, was Henry Winstanley Smith. The following year Henry Winstanley Smith was again charged with selling whiskey without a license. The article said that he was "employed as barman at Mrs. Jones's wine shop." That case wound up being dismissed. Henry Winstanley Smith was a young Englishman (born in 1860) who came out to Australia in 1886. I have no idea what he was up to in the previous two years in the colony before turning up in the papers in Glenrowan but he was to play a major role in the life of Mrs. Jones for more than a decade. Remember that at this time her husband Owen Jones was still alive (though many writers have wrongly said she was a widow at the time of the siege in 1880!). Owen Jones died on June 20, 1890 at Toorak at age 63. He was buried in the Wangaratta Cemetery. The newspaper article about his death (The North Eastern Ensign of July 4, 1890) said that he was a native of Carnarvon (Wales).

Yet, in the 1910 interview that Ann Jones gave to B.W. Cookson for "The Kelly Gang From Within" newspaper series she made the comment: "I have been married twice..both of my husbands were Englishmen."

Less than a year after Owen's death, Ann Jones wed her employee Henry Winstanley Smith on May 15, 1891. (Why do I keep hearing that old Billy Paul soul classic "Me and Mrs. Jones" running around in my head?)  I have read two different years for the birth of Ann Jones, one 1830, the other 1833. I am not sure which, if either, is correct as I have not seen any official records, but,  regardless, it seems that she was still quite a bit older than her new bridegroom. 

There is a photograph of Ann and Henry standing in front of their wine shop. The sign reads:


A. SMITH


WINE


GOOD ACCOMMODATION


compare that with the sign that was in front of the Glenrowan Inn back in 1880:


THE GLENROWAN INN


ANN JONES


BEST ACCOMMODATION


Photo from B.W. Cookson's The Kelly Gang From Within



There were a few more bits and pieces I have been able to find about the Smiths during the 1890s.

 In 1894 Ann complained to the council about "cattle straying about the streets and trespassing on adjoining properties." She also complained about "a dangerous drain 3 ft deep" and suggest that the build a small footbridge for it.

 In 1895 Ann tried yet again to get a publican's license so she could sell whiskey. Her previous conviction for sly grog selling probably did not help her cause. She was denied the publican's license but she was allowed to renew her Colonial Wine License. That same year Henry Smith had an unfortunate accident. He was attempting to  remove a cartridge from a revolver and put the barrel in his mouth to blow grit out. You can guess the rest. The gun went off and split his tongue and lodged in his neck. He was charged with attempted suicide by the police. He was remanded with no bail for a week. It was eventually ruled an accident and he was let go.

In 1896 Henry Smith took part in a concert during the annual Glenrowan picnic. He accompanied a singer (the article did not say what instrument he played) and they garnered much applause.

In 1897 Ann had trouble with a bad drain in front of her premises and asked council for a row of sleepers to be put down but the council would not fix it for her despite her pleas. One council member "moved that no action should be taken." Another moved to refer it to the engineer. Cr. Ashmead (yes, the Ashmead who wrote the Kelly manuscript we refer to now and then on this blog) "denied that the drain was a deep one" and agreed with no action being taken. Yet another council member "remarked that Mrs. Smith wanted a boarded floor in front of her premises" and agreed to no action being taken. Two years later she was still trying to have it fixed even offering to pay up to a certain price for repairs. This time it was approved by Ashmead. Maybe it was deep enough for him by then??

In 1898 Ann again had trouble. She had rented a paddock to graze her cows on and a neighbour built a fence that denied her access to the cows. Once again she went to the council with her complaint. The council decided to wait a month to decide! I have no idea what the decision was. What about those cows needing attention and milking in the meantime while these councilmen put her off?

Also in 1898 a Corporal Hennessy of Glenrowan who was a Victorian Rifleman was visiting London with the Rifleman where he received an invitation to dine with "the sister and brother-in-law of H.W. Smith of Glenrowan." The address was a swanky one...Sheen House, Mortlake.
I suppose Henry had written or telegraphed ahead for the invite for his friend.

Tragedy struck again for Ann when Henry Winstanley Smith passed away on March 4, 1901 at age 40.  In the newspaper write up about it it said:


"Mr. Smith had been for some little time ailing and his medical advisor did not anticipate any serious results until the day of his death. Deceased had been for some years past in the Navy and also came from a distinguished military family. His uncle Lieutenant-Colonel Smith was a Crimean war veteran.....Deceased leaves a widow for whom much sympathy is felt."

I looked for his name in the Royal Navy Archives and found a couple of dozen Henry Smiths, with no middle name given, and of the other Henry Smiths with middle names not any of them Winstanley as a middle name for the pertinent time period. In looking in old newspapers I did find a seafaring bit presumably about him. In 1879 a Henry Winstanley Smith was an apprentice on board the Hermione docked in New Zealand when he was charged with deserting the ship. He plead guilty, but the master did not press the case and Smith was ordered on board the ship. 

I made mention of Henry's will in an earlier blog post called "Ann Jones Makes Her Mark." In his will Henry Smith left Ann 2000 pounds which had been in a residuary trust fund left to him by his late father. Henry had made the will out in 1891, the same year he and Ann were married.


Of course, this, like everything else in Ann's life did not come easy! I found something in the London Gazette in early 1902 where there was a listing for a legal case of  Jones V. Smith. In that there was being sought information on whether Henry Winstanley's first wife was still alive and if there were any children sired by him.(they married in 1882, he left for Australia in 1886, per the listing.)

Ann must have triumphed in this as I remember reading about this 2000 pounds in B.W. Cookson's "The Kelly Gang From Within" series in the interview with Mrs. Jones circa 1910:


"I don't want any help now. I get my living - enough to keep me - from England - from my last husband's estate. His name was Smith.


My husband - the last one - was a gentleman. He came from the West End of London. And I am living now on the interest of 2000 pounds that he left me when he died."

But let's rewind back to 1901, Ann had lost her (second) husband of nearly a decade (actually she had lost 2 husbands in a dozen years), but she still had her wine shop to tide her over financially until the probate of the will and then the UK legal wrangling was done. In November of  1901 she transferred her Colonial Wine License to Mrs. W.H. (Sarah) Hill. Mrs. Hill rented the wine shop from Mrs. Jones and tragedy struck for Ann yet again in just a few months. History seemed to be repeating itself. Details of that will be in my next blog posting! Stay tuned!

Part two can be found at http://elevenmilecreek.blogspot.com/2011/10/part-two-ann-jones-new-beginnings-and.html

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mrs. Jones Makes Her Mark [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Was Mrs. Ann Jones of the Glenrowan Inn illiterate? That is something I had not thought about previously until reading an article in Meanjin magazine last year called "Ned's Women A Fractured Love Story" which was written by Clare Wright & Alex McDermott. The article, which contrasts and compares the lives of Ann Jones and Ellen Kelly, had the following statement:

"Their origins may have been practically identical—illiterate, poor Irish Catholic girls—but their paths diverged radically."


I had read in Ian Jones's "A Short Life" where Ellen Kelly could read but could not write. But concerning Ann Jones I started to wonder how that could be that she was illiterate since there were all those letters she wrote to officials and the newspaper regarding her compensation case. It was not until the past few weeks when I started to do some very  in depth research into Mrs. Jones's life for some upcoming blog posts that I harkened back to that statement about her being illiterate. What I found confused me.
I saw a handful of letters Ann wrote and I immediately noticed that they were all not in the same handwriting (also saw where she allegedly signed something else..more about that later). To my untrained eye a couple of the signatures looked closely alike but a couple of them were nothing like the others. One of the letters had handwriting that was quite elegant and professional looking, another not as elegant but legible and one of them had a very childlike chicken scratch scrawl. Perhaps she dictated the letters to someone? Maybe to a clerk at her lawyer's firm? Maybe a family member? Or did she write one of them and some done by others?

What makes me really confused was looking at the probates and wills for Ann and her second husband. In the probate affidavit for her second husband (wherein her name is given as Ann Smith) in 1901 there is this bit:

"...I certify that previously to the said Ann Smith swearing the affidavit before us we as foresaid the same was read over and explained to her in my presence and she seemed perfectly to understand the same and made her mark thereto in my presence she being illiterate and unable to write."


Then at the bottom of her will and testament there is this:

"Signed and acknowledged by the said Ann Smith the Testratrix by her making her mark hereto she being unable to write..the same having been previously read over and explained to her and by her declared to be her last Will and Testament in the presence of us both present at the same time who in her presence at her request and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses."


In both of those there is a large X and they have her name and say it is her mark.

Then in another section I read where one of the undersigned witnesses said:

"...said will was then read over and explained to her in our presence both present and at the same time and she said "that is right" and she then signed the same making her mark thereto unassisted by any person where it now appears she being illiterate and unable to write..."


So was she illiterate? From these legal forms it would seem so, but there is a fly in the ointment. Back during the compensation inquiry there is something that is signed with her name and it then said under it  "witness to the signature W.S. Montfort." This signature was one that was somewhat like another I saw in the letters. Unless she had made an X that was incorporated into her name later by a clerk I am more confused than ever!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Article Alert: Losing the Plot: Archaeological Investigations of Prisoner Burials at the Old Melbourne Gaol and Pentridge Prison

While looking around the Public Records of Victoria site I found a very interesting article called Losing the Plot: Archaeological Investigations of Prisoner Burials at the Old Melbourne Gaol and Pentridge Prison written by Jeremy Smith. In it he details about the search for Ned Kelly's bones and about the 1929 incident at the OMG where graves were disturbed and subsequently removed to Pentridge for reburial. There are good photos of all the boxes used to house the bones, some were coffins and some were axe boxes, one of them from an American company. He has an informative postscript to the story as it was written before the DNA confirmation to catch us up to date.

To read it go to:

http://prov.vic.gov.au/losing-the-plot

After reading that go to the search box on the same page and find more Ned Kelly related articles. Nothing much was new to me, but it is a good refresher, nonetheless.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy First Birthday/Anniversary to Our Blog!

October 3, 2011 marks the one year birthday/anniversary of the Eleven Mile Creek blog. Brian Stevenson (who is an amazing co-blogger and proven to be a stalwart friend) and I started adding posts here on Oct. 3, 2010 and went live with it on Oct. 25 (we wanted to have a few postings under our belts before opening the doors). I am surprised that we have had so much to blog about! I was worried about running out of steam/ideas after so many years contributing information elsewhere in the Kelly world, but it seems that there is always something new to find out or to see from a different angle. We have been driven to keep things fresh and exciting for our readers. We have learned many new things about the Kellys and the people/places/things in their orbit during this time. If we do start to slow down a bit and don't post as often as in our first year, we hope that everyone will still stick with us and keep tuning in.

In the past year we have done 130 postings...of those, 45 of them were researched and written by me, Sharon Hollingsworth, and 26 were by Brian Stevenson, with Greg Young and Michael Ball each contributing a guest blog. Then I have put 55 article alerts and 14 other alerts and announcements. We have had visitors from 59 countries and areas and have had nearly 8,000 page views. I guess we are small potatoes page view-wise when compared with other Kelly sites, but whether you love us, or hate us, you cannot deny that we are offering (in great quantity and quality) what few others are!

I want to thank everyone that has made comments on our posts this past year. It is always good to know what others think or if they have something to add to what we have written or have corrections to what we have found during research. We have put all that we have received on the blog except for one that accidentally went to the spam folder and another that was actually spam. If anyone has tried to comment and not seen it here that is because it did not show up! I have had friends tell me that they had commented but it did not show up (and I had to add for them under their name) and I and another had tried to comment on another blog of someone they knew and those did not show up according to the blog owner (and they added for us). There does seem to be some sort of issue with the commenting form at times, so if you have tried to comment and it never appeared, please know that you have not been dissed or dismissed!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Charles Nicolson, the Sophia and the Pirate Bushrangers [Brian Stevenson]

Most followers of the Kelly saga will know Charles Hope Nicolson, the doughty and humorless Scot who played a large role in the life of Ned Kelly. He had questioned the very young Ned in Ned’s capacity as assistant to that old reprobate, Harry Power, and seems to have formed a favourable early impression of the teenager, possibly even trying to find him work in New South Wales, away from the pernicious influence of his clan. Nicolson was on hand when Harry Power was captured, and in late 1878 was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police, with the specific task of capturing the Kelly Gang. It was Nicolson who set up a network of police spies and informers, who, as is well known, provided him with information of varying quality about the past, present and future doings and whereabouts of the Gang. The 1881 Royal Commission considered him at least partly responsible for the length of time that the Kellys remained at large, and recommended that he not return to the force. He became a Police Magistrate in 1882 and died in Melbourne in 1898.

Nicolson joined the force as a cadet in December 1852, and it was in his first year of service that he had an adventure that seems to have been overlooked by Kelly scholars. Indeed, Cadet Nicolson nearly lost his life in an encounter with two extremely unlikeable miscreants, who in their brief criminal careers, were both pirates and bushrangers who committed crimes in two colonies, Van Diemen’s Land and Victoria.

The case of the pirate bushrangers had its commencement on 14 September 1853 when the two miscreants, Henry Bradley (about 22) and Patrick O’Connor (about 30) robbed the farm of Mr Jonathan House near Launceston. House escaped through a window, but O’Connor discharged both barrels of a shotgun at one Mr Phillips, killing him instantly. They then robbed several more homesteads, and the next day they materialized at Circular Head where they boarded the schooner Sophia and forced the nine member crew to sail across Bass Strait to Victoria, landing near Cape Schank on 19 September.

At Mr King’s farm at Brighton they ordered a ploughman to release his horses for their use. He thought they were joking and told them to ‘Come back at dinner time.’ One of them shot him dead. They appeared at Clarke’s station shortly afterwards, in the guise of shepherds asking for work. Mr Clarke refused, and one of them shot at him, putting a hole through his hat. The gardener tried to help Clarke, but was shot in the chest.

They went via Balcombe's station to Brighton, where they bailed up King's farm. During this robbery they ordered the ploughman to release his horses for their use. He treated their youthful demand as a joke, and told them to "Come back at dinner-time." One of them shot him dead on the spot. For this crime the Government offered a reward of £200. Bradley was described as "Harry, 23, 5' 5," fair complexion, brown hair, long and curly; no whiskers; thin face with particularly large nostrils, wearing a Petersham coat, and armed with a rifle and three pocket pistols."

They next appeared as shepherds asking for work at Clarke's station. When their services were refused, one of them fired at Mr. Clarke, the ball passing through his hat. When the gardener ran to Mr. Clarke's assistance he was shot through the chest, and the bushrangers fired six further shots at Clarke, without effect. They went to one of the station huts and kept seven men hostage while they cast more bullets from lead that they had procured, and then moved to Kane’s station, where they tied up eleven men and pillaged the premises.
It was here that the long arm of the law caught up with them in the person of five police under the command of Sergeant Nolan, with several volunteers. Cadet Charles Hope Nicolson, a little short of his 24th birthday, was with the party.

In the witness box in court in Melbourne, Nicolson told how Cadet Thompson, trooper Osler and himself arrived at Cain’s station and found it apparently deserted. But he heard a voice calling out and he went into the homestead and untied the bound men he found there. Nicolson saw O’Connor approaching the house on horseback ‘he seemed a much larger man on horseback’ – and someone said ‘That is the bushranger.’ Thompson and Osler came out and O’Connor said ‘Put down that pistol’ and almost immediately he began firing. Thompson was shot. O’Connor disappeared for ‘a minute or two’ and came back with Bradley, giving Nicolson a chance to reload, he having fired two pistols at O’Connor without effect. When O’Connor reappeared, he said to Bradley ‘Take the gun and shoot the ----‘, and Nicolson again fired his two pistols, again without effect, though he thought he had hit Bradley because he ducked his head. ‘I fired at Bradley, and as he ducked his head I thought I had shot him.’ The two miscreants disappeared. Thompson was badly wounded in the left breast, the ball having come out below his left shoulder.

They caught up with the bushrangers the next morning. Both were on horseback, but Bradley dismounted and got behind a tree. Nicolson continued: ‘I rode at O’Connor: we each fired. O’Connor’s ball whizzed past my cheek, slightly grazing it, and I could not pull my horse around directly. He fired again and I returned his fire. This time his ball went though the neck of my horse. […] O’Connor galloped off and we exchanged shots again. My revolver pistol missed fire. I had now come up with him, and struck him on the head and knocked him off the horse. We had a struggle, and at last I threw him down. He then said he would surrender, and asked me not to shoot a fallen enemy.’

Osler captured the other prisoner, Bradley.

The two wretches were brought to Melbourne for trial. While the image of a pirate-bushranger sounds like it has potential for glamour, the journalist was little impressed with the pair, though he did make some allowances for O’Connor, who was described as ‘a rather stoutly built, fresh-coloured young man of fair complexion, about 25 years of age and about five feet eight inches in height … [his] appearance is rather that of a young man, brutalized by degrading associations, sensual, ignorant, obstinate, passionate and ferocious.’

Bradley, however, was portrayed in a way both devoid of sympathy and commendation: ‘Bradley is one of the most unwholesome, ill-looking ruffians that ever stood at the bar of a criminal court. […] [He] looks like an innate villain, without any redeeming quality; his very appearance denotes the debased, treacherous villain, which his life has realized. He appears to be scarcely five feet in height, and about the same age as his companion in guilt. His phrenological developments denote cunning as his only capacity, and his physiognomy is as unprepossessing as was ever displayed in human form.’
Bradley laughed when some aspect or another of his crimes was described, and was placed in the dock while eating something. He continued to do so – his ‘manner from the moment he entered the dock was disgusting in the extreme.’ The reporter believed he was feigning bravado.

After Nicolson gave his evidence, O’Connor cross-examined him, presumably as to exactly what had happened. O’Connor seems to have been trying to deflect some of the blame from Bradley. Nicolson said, in answer to his question (whatever it was) ‘I am sure you are the man who fired at Thompson. It was about a minute after you fired that Bradley came up.’
O’Connor: ‘I took you for a nice gentlemanly-looking man, but you know you have told what is not true. Perhaps the vengeance of God may fall upon you as well as on me. I won’t ask you anything more.’

Bradley: ‘No, it’s of no use to ask him anything.’

O’Connor kept on trying to defend Bradley. O’Connor ‘I do not deny I shot Thompson. But as regards this man Bradley, I mean to say he was not there when I fired…I do not see how you can bring him in guilty, he had nothing to do with it: the trooper has not told the truth: that is all I’ve got to say.’ Bradley, offered the chance to say something in his own defense, ‘replied impatiently, ‘No, I’ve nothing at all to say.’’

The judge summed up and said to the jury that ‘if Bradley were proved to have been in company with the other prisoner at the time either immediately before or immediately after, and were generally acting in concert with him, no matter whether he were present at the identical moment when the shot was fired, he was equally guilty. It was quite immaterial by whose hand, of the two accomplices, the deed was done.’

After death sentence was pronounced, Bradley ‘said with a grin – ‘Thank you, my lord, I’m very glad for your sentence; I’m very glad indeed.’ He then turned round and laughed again in the most impudent manner, evidently anxious to exhibit the utmost bravado.’

The badly wounded Cadet Thompson was invalided out of the force and died only three years later. His assailers had already paid the penalty. The precious pair went to the gallows on 24 October 1853 and faded into history, although Nicolson, almost totally by virtue of his association with Ned Kelly, did not. In 1908 one of the few surviving police cadets of the period was interviewed by the Argus newspaper, who remembered Charles Hope Nicolson as ‘without doubt, the pluckiest man I knew.’

(Sources: Stefan Williams, Dictionary of Australian bushrangers: Argus 20 June 1908: Courier (Hobart) 4, 27 October 1853: Justin Corfield, The Ned Kelly encyclopedia.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Great Colonial Baking Competition of 1878-1880 [Sharon Hollingsworth]

In modern day Beechworth you can go to the very popular Beechworth Bakery to sample some "Ned Kelly" pies and other assorted breads and pastries. Interestingly enough, back in Beechworth in the 1870s before the Kellys were out, Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt used to visit a pie shop that was at the same location of today's Beechworth Bakery.

Baking is a true art form that never goes out of style. Many strive to be awarded the coveted Blue Ribbon for their efforts in baking contests.

When the Kelly gang was on the run there was a great deal of baking going on in Victoria. It took a lot of loaves to fill the bellies of the gang and the police that were on their trail. I guess we can consider it as being the Great Colonial Baking Competition of 1878-1880.

Our first contender for the top prize is Constable Thomas McIntyre. On the Stringybark Creek expedition, just prior to the tragic events thereof, Mac did a bit of baking. In his manuscript he says:

"...we had plenty of flour to bake some bread; all the bread we had with us had proven to be sweet and was disagreeable when eaten with salt meat....and having cut a large sheet of bark off a white gum tree, out of which I improvised a table and a baking board I proceeded to bake some bread..."


Then after the gang had attacked the camp, some of the members sat down to eat..McIntyre said:

"Kelly then joined the others in feasting upon our cooked ham and the fresh bread that I had made....I feel pleased now, that they expressed so much approval of my bread that I believe I could have got a testimonial from them as a first class baker."


The next contender is Ned's sister, Maggie Skillion. She did a prodigious amount of baking. There was "bread baked in such quantities that it could not have been for the ordinary family." She would go out at night and make deliveries of this bread and other provisions.

Next, Mrs. Byrne, Joe Byrne's mother, also did a large amount of baking that was much more than for her immediate family's needs.

Next up for the title is Team Sherritt. Mrs. John Sherritt (Aaron Sherritt's mother) was in charge of doing all the baking for the cave parties of police. Mrs. Aaron Sherritt (Belle) did the baking for the police who were hiding in her and Aaron's hut (the four policemen went out each night with Aaron to watch Mrs. Byrne's place). She told the Royal Commission: "I was in danger myself, cooking bread for the police and staying in the house by myself at night till they came home in the morning."

We have to give honourable mention to Ned Kelly himself, who, was visiting the Sherritts (at Aaron's parents' home) while some bread was baking. He saw some dough left in the bowl and he then "took some of the dough up, and he flattened it on the table and pulled out the fire with his foot and cooked two or three pieces" all the while holding a baby in his arms!

I think our overall blue ribbon winner would be Maggie Skillion. To put it in baking terms, she is like the gluten that held the family together during the entire Kelly Outbreak. (According to the Prepared Pantry website "gluten is a substance made up of the proteins found in wheat flour that gives bread its structure, strength, and texture.") She went above and beyond to make sure that the gang were well provisioned and that everyone in her immediate circle was nurtured and cared for. She is truly the (literally) unsung heroine of the saga. (Any song cycles about her in the works?)

I think Constable McIntyre should get a special "Ingenuity in the Field" award for making quality bread in primitive conditions, sorta like a gastronomical McGyver! And he had the Kelly Gang seal of approval!

Of course, man does not live by bread alone. Sardines seemed to be a popular item for those going bush, the proverbial loaves and fishes if you will. Just after Stringybark Creek the gang stopped off at a store to purchase tins of sardines and a bottle of brandy. They also stopped by farmer Gideon Margery's place where he fed them bread, cheese and wine. There were other places that the gang would go to to liberate oranges from the groves (always good to have extra vitamin C to go along with all that vitamin B12 in sardines). Of course, friends and relatives would give aid and comfort by purchasing sardines, tinned fish, and hams, among other items which they would leave at pre-arranged places (sometimes inside a certain hollow log).  The gang must have used condiments such as mustard to season some of the German sausages that hawker Ben Gould was seen to purchase (along with corned beef). It was said Gould was never seen to eat or sell any of these purchases, so it was assumed it was for provisioning the gang. Ned Kelly even had a Keen's mustard tin that he used to hold extra ammunition in. That is the ultimate in recycling!

Once, in a very famous episode, Ned and the gang stopped by an inn on a rainy night where they were served hot stew by the owner's wife even though they did not have any money to pay for it. Weeks later Ned returned late one night to pay what was owed to the surprise of the Inn owner!

All of these folks who were helping out the gang risked their freedom. The Felons Apprehension Act stated that any person assisting the gang could receive up to fifteen years in gaol. This did not deter the sympathisers.

The gang were careful when eating and drinking at places where their identity was known. They always had the homeowner taste any food or drink before they would partake to avoid being poisoned or drugged. Constable McIntyre said that Ned asked if there was any poison around the police camp and he was made to sample the first sip of tea. They also had Mr. Scott taste the whiskey before they would take a drop during the Euroa holdup. 

The police in the Kelly chase bascially ate the same things that the gang did. Those in the cave party got their bread from Mrs. John Sherritt as mentioned above, and they had plenty of sardines. As it was reported to the Royal Commission the cave party lived on "bread and fish." Kelly author Ian Jones found some relics up at the police caves back in 1966 including two beef tins and a sardine tin. The Sherritts were supposed to have gone and cleaned the caves out once the cave parties ended but it seems they missed a few things. During the duration of the cave party an empty sardine tin that had rolled down hill and was reflecting sunlight, attracted the unwanted attention of Mrs. Byrne (whose place was being watched).

Superintendent Hare was part of the first cave party and he had this to say:

"We dared not make a fire for fear of the smoke being noticed, so we had to live on water, preserved beef, and bread. Our breakfast consisted of bread and sardines, and a drink of water, dinner and supper the same, varied with tinned beef."


On subsequent cave parties the police had jam, bread, tinned beef, sardines and "bottles of porter, ale and whiskey." There was one month's account that had 150 bottles of liquor on it, much to the consternation of the higher ups in the department (this was for a party of 5). Mrs. Sherritt had also mentioned sending up boiled bacon for them along with the bread.

Beechworth store owner Patrick Allen made a good living providing supplies for both sides in the Kelly hunt. He said of the police cave party that they "lived fat and cut it thick."

Later on after the cave parties ended, the police search parties lived on "potted beef, and biscuits and sardines." Guess there was no more bread being baked by Aaron's mother for them! Hare had said that when provisions ran out they went back to Benalla for more, but sometimes they would get meat and bread from local farmers. (I wonder if some of these same farmers had helped feed the Kellys, too?)

The Kellys were said to have played host to others while on the run. In the Otago Witness newspaper of May 3, 1879 a swagman gave an account of meeting the Kellys wherein "he said he was well treated, but he had no money, and was hungry, which may account for it. They produced cold corned beef, pickles, cheese, sardines, and a bottle of dark brandy."

There is an account by a European nobleman travelling in Australia in 1879 in which he tells of a  lunch in the bush he had (consisting of whiskey, cold meat, bread and butter and tea) with Ned and Dan.

In "The Kelly Gang From Within" series, B.W. Cookson had an installment by a man who was "Captured by the Bushrangers." Whether or not he really was bailed up by the Kellys or if it was merely someone with a flight of fancy his description of what he saw as concerns foodstuff at the outlaws' hut was not very appetizing:

"They now led me into the hut, and I was not impressed with the amount of comfort I might anticipate from the furnishings of the interior. In the centre stood what was used as a table. It was composed of a sheet of bark supported by four stakes driven into the ground. On it stood a billy and dirty pannikins, also an empty jam tin, evidently converted into a drinking vessel. Near the billy was what appeared to be the remains of a piece of meat - roast beef - burnt almost to a cinder on the outside, and nearly raw where it had been cut. There was also some kind of bread, which appeared like a cross between a damper and a johnny cake. A bottle about three-parts full of whiskey stood with the viands, and completing what appeared to be the remains of a not-distant meal."


If that is not mouth-watering enough for you, consider what he was later served to him by Joe Byrne...a tin of preserved sheep's tongue!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Article Alert: Nationwide Hunt for Kelly Gang to Decide Ned's Resting Place

from google alerts...

The Sunday Herald Sun of Sept. 18, 2011 has an article called Nationwide Hunt for Kelly Gang to Decide Ned's Resting Place.

   
The article begins with:


A nationwide search will be launched for long-lost descendants of Ned Kelly as his family and authorities prepare to fulfill the bushranger's dying wish.

More than 130 years after Ned was captured and hanged, a new crusade to round up the Kelly gang will begin today in a bid to have all sides of the family decide the final resting place of his remains....


From further down in the article:


But Leigh Olver, the great grandson of Kelly's sister Ellen, said the family was desperate to locate two missing ancestors before any decision was made on where he was laid to rest.

The search is on for descendants of Alice King and Jack King - Ned's half-brother and sister from his mother's second marriage to George King.

King and his wife are believed to have dumped their children, born after Ned's execution, in an orphanage and toured the world as a circus act called Kelly and Kelly.

Mr Olver, whose DNA was used to identify Ned's remains, said the family was desperate to track down all the ancestors.

"It's an important step for all the descendants of Ned to gather together and decide where his final resting place should be," he said....



To read more:


http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/nationwide-hunt-for-kelly-gang/story-fn7x8me2-1226139963419

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alexander Fitzpatrick - A Forgotten Conviction [Brian Stevenson]

Poor Alexander Fitzpatrick. It is hard to think of someone less liked by more Kelly cognoscenti, and even the police did not think much of him. Indeed, so enamoured were they that when he was convalescing with a severely injured leg, he was fined five shillings for laughing in the police hospital after lights out. (Royal Commission, 1881, Question 12897.) When Fitzpatrick was discharged, Commissioner Standish viewed his conduct as 'generally bad and discreditable to the force' and added 'I cannot hold out any hope of his ever being reinstated to the position of Constable in the Victorian Police.'

Fitzpatrick was one of the last major survivors in the Kelly drama. When he died in 1924, Jim Kelly was the only figure of comparative significance still around. (Ellen Kelly had died the year before.)The journalist B W Cookson interviewed Fitzpatrick in 1911. By then, Fitzpatrick had decided to put the best spin possible on the events of 15 April 1878, stating simply that although he was little more than a boy (he was 22) he did his duty, and revealing a surprising and significant awe for Ned Kelly.

Fitzpatrick's fondness for the bottle probably played a part that fateful day. He stopped for a few drinks at David Lindsay's Winton Hotel before going to Greta to arrest Dan Kelly. What happened afterwards, of course, is a matter of conjecture, but his fondness for drink got him into more trouble many years later. Only this time, it would be he who would suffer direct consequences.

Here is what I found on the wonderful National Library Trove site, from the Melbourne Argus of 18 July 1894.

'Alexander Fitzpatrick, who was found guilty of obtaining different small sums of money from Mrs Ryan of the Saracen's Head Hotel, Bourke Street, by means of valueless cheques, came up for sentence at the Crown Court yesterday, before the Chief Justice. Mr Tucker, who appeared for the defence, asked that a light sentence should be inflicted. The prisoner was a young, married man. It also appeared that he had been drinking heavily during his stay at the hotel. the prisoner himself also addressed the Court in mitigation of sentence, and stated that when he passed the cheques he thought that he would have enough funds at the bank to meet them. He was sentence to twelve months imprisonment.'

I have found little else about this article, and am amazed that the Fitzpatrick haters, having run the hapless Alexander up hill and down dale for over 130 years, have not made anything of this little gem. To the best of my knowledge, no other writer had mentioned it. Nothing in the article identifies Fitzpatrick as having anything to do with Ned Kelly, but a couple of brief items in the Barrier Miner, the Broken Hill newspaper, helpfully mentioned the connection. [Update: many new articles have been added to Trove about this conviction in the time since the publication of this blog and some mention the Kelly connection]

I could not find any other account of this story and neither Sharon Hollingsworth nor I could turn up any other corroboration. There are online lists of prison inmates for the period, but his name does not appear on any of them. [update: after this post was published Sharon found a record for an Alexander Fitzpatrick at the PROV with the accession # of  VPRS515/P0001/48/Page362 and we discussed it at length at a couple of other Kelly forums] Moreover, Fitzpatrick was hardly young - he was 38 at the time - though he was married, and had been so for sixteen years, and had two children. The existence of more than one Alexander Fitzpatrick in Victoria in 1894 is certainly a possibility.

On the other hand, the balance of evidence certainly points to it being him. We have the Broken Hill paper's statement. Further, the prisoner Fitzpatrick evidently had a drinking problem, and so did the notorious Alex. It would be with him all his life. When he died in 1924, aged 67, one of the causes of death was cirrhosis of the liver.